University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name American Pulverizer Co. v. HHS FA-MO-0005
Docket / Court 6:12-cv-03459-RED ( W.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Special Collection Contraception Insurance Mandate
Case Summary
On October 19, 2012, two evangelical Christian business owners filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The plaintiffs brought suit under the First and Fifth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ( ... read more >
On October 19, 2012, two evangelical Christian business owners filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The plaintiffs brought suit under the First and Fifth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"), against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury. Represented by private counsel and the American Center for Law and Justice, the plaintiffs asked the court for both declaratory and injunctive relief. The suit alleged that federal rules adopted as part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") violated their religious freedom by requiring them to provide coverage for contraception through their company's group health insurance plans. Specifically, the plaintiffs objected to the ACA rules requiring them to provide coverage for emergency contraception, which the plaintiffs considered an abortifacient. Claiming that providing coverage for emergency contraception would both contravene their Christian faith and compel speech contrary to their beliefs, the plaintiffs sought an exemption from the ACA's contraception mandate for themselves and other business owners with similar religious objections.

On December 20, 2012, the District Court (Judge Richard E. Dorr) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, finding that the plaintiffs had demonstrated a threat of imminent irreparable harm and that the question of whether the mandate was justified by a compelling government interest merited "deliberate investigation." American Pulverizer Co. v. DHHS, Slip Op. 2012 WL 6951316 (W.D. Mo. Dec. 20, 2012). Judge Dorr further found that the facts of the case were nearly identical to those in O'Brien v. HHS, in which the Eighth Circuit had recently stayed the same defendant departments from enforcing the contraception mandate against the plaintiffs, evangelical Christian small-business owners.

The defendants appealed the injunction to the Eighth Circuit (Case No. 13-1395). On February 20, 2013, District Court Judge Goldberg granted the defendants' joint motion to stay the district court proceedings pending the Eighth Circuit appeal. On February 26, 2013, in a clerk order not attributed to any individual judge, the Eighth Circuit granted the defendants' motion to hold the case in abeyance pending its own decision in the O'Brien appeal (Case No. 12-3357). On April 21, 2014, this case was reassigned to District Judge M. Douglas Harpool. On September 4, 2014, the Eighth Circuit granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the appeal following the Supreme Court's decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, on June 30, 2014. On October 30, 2014, the District Court granted a permanent injunction for the plaintiffs. The injunction protected the plaintiffs against government enforcement of the version of the contraception mandate that existed prior to the Hobby Lobby decision. Prior to Hobby Lobby, closely-held for-profit religious employers did not have an opportunity to notify the government of their objection to the contraception mandate, and compel the government to work with their insurer to provide contraception coverage directly to their employees. The decision did not preclude the plaintiffs from bringing suit under later versions of the mandate.

The parties agreed that petitions for attorney's fees or costs would be submitted to the court by January 28, 2015, but no petitions were submitted during that period.

Hannah Swanson - 06/14/2013
Mallory Jones - 02/09/2014
Kate Craddock - 04/10/2016


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Religion discrimination
General
Abortion
Contraception
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Closely-held (for profit) corporation
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. ยงยง 551 et seq.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Defendant(s) U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
U.S. Dept. of Labor
U.S. Dept. of the Treasury
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are business owners who oppose the use of contraception for religious reasons, and therefore object to the contraception mandate in the ACA.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
6:12−cv−03459 (W.D. Mo.) 12/15/2014
FA-MO-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 10/19/2012
FA-MO-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Inclusion in the Early Assessment Program in the Western District of Missouri 10/19/2012
FA-MO-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Suggestions in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction 11/20/2012
FA-MO-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion of the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, and the ACLU Foundation of Kansas and Western Missouri for Leave to File Brief Amici Curiae Regarding Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction 12/06/2012
FA-MO-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amicus Curiae Brief 12/06/2012
FA-MO-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 12/20/2012 (2012 WL 6951316) (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0005-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 02/20/2013 (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0005-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Injunction and Judgment 10/30/2014 (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0005-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Dorr, Richard Everett (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0005-0001 | FA-MO-0005-0007 | FA-MO-0005-9000
England, James C. (W.D. Mo.) [Magistrate]
FA-MO-0005-0003
Harpool, M. Douglas (W.D. Mo.)
FA-MO-0005-0008 | FA-MO-0005-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Manion, Frances J (Kentucky)
FA-MO-0005-0002 | FA-MO-0005-0004 | FA-MO-0005-9000
Nielsen, Todd (Missouri)
FA-MO-0005-0002 | FA-MO-0005-9000
Surtees, Geoffrey R. (Kentucky)
FA-MO-0005-0002 | FA-MO-0005-0004 | FA-MO-0005-9000
White, Edward L. III (Michigan)
FA-MO-0005-0002 | FA-MO-0005-0004 | FA-MO-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Michelle Renee (District of Columbia)
FA-MO-0005-9000
Other Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York)
FA-MO-0005-0006 | FA-MO-0005-9000
Bonney, Stephen Douglas (Missouri)
FA-MO-0005-0006
Doty, Grant R. (Missouri)
FA-MO-0005-9000
Rothert, Anthony E. (Missouri)
FA-MO-0005-0005 | FA-MO-0005-0006 | FA-MO-0005-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -